Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #14)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: One final fun adventure for fans
Cons: A few plot points feel familiar
The Bottom Line:
Final adventure
For my favorite spy.  How
I love Mrs. P.

Mrs. Pollifax’s Final Adventure

All good things come to an end.  Sadly.  And with Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, we have reached the end of the Mrs. Pollifax series.  When I first read it 15 years ago, I remember being slightly disappointed in it, but I can’t quite figure out why that is now.

If you have missed this delightful series, Mrs. Pollifax is a grandmother, garden club member, and part time CIA agent.  Whenever Carstairs from the CIA calls, she answers and is off on another adventure to some far flung region of the world.  (And just in case you are wondering just how much I love the series, yes, I did steal my internet name from it.)  Each book is set in the period when it was released, which means we start with Communists and the Cold War in 1966, and we end with this book set in the Middle East in 2000.

Mrs. Pollifax has barely recovered from her last adventure when Carstairs calls her again.  Seven weeks ago, Amanda Pym, an American, steps up to end a hijacking when the plane she was on was diverted from Egypt to Syria.  Lauded as a hero, she promptly vanished.  She was presumed dead, but news has recently reached the CIA that she might be alive.

Posing as Amanda’s concerned aunt, Mrs. Pollifax heads out with her friend and former agent Farrell at her side.  They must follow any lead they can to try to track down Amanda.  But is the young woman still alive?  If so, can the pair shake their constant shadows to find her and rescue her?  And why did she disappear in the first place?

What you have here is the makings of a classic Mrs. Pollifax adventure, and the book delivers in spades.  Once again, she sets out against overwhelming odds and uses her wits and ingenuity (and a bit of luck) to piece things together.  Of course, there are political overtones to the adventure that stretch into the realities of the day.  With Syria in the headlines, it is interesting to read this take on what was happening in that country in 2000.  Granted, this is a work of fiction, but it is still fun.

And the characters are fantastic.  You can’t help but love Mrs. Pollifax; the woman just doesn’t understand the meaning of the word no.  She comes up with the best schemes some times, and this book has a real winner.  Farrell is one of my favorite supporting players.  He doesn’t pop up in every book, but I love it when he does.  We don’t meet as many new friends this time as in some of the books, but there are a couple of other memorable characters here.

So what was my problem with the book originally?  I have two theories.  First, I was expecting Mrs. Pollifax to be exposed publically as a spy in this book based on the unveiled part of the title.  Frankly, I should have known better since this isn’t that kind of a series.  Instead, that’s just referring to the veils she wears as part of her disguise at times.  I think remembering that really helped me enjoy it more on the reread.

Also, when I referred to the book as a classic Mrs. Pollifax adventure, I did mean that.  A couple of the plot points felt familiar to me.  And yet, I got so caught up in the story this time, I didn’t care.  Knowing now that it is the final book in the series, I think I appreciated it more for that reason.  In many ways, it feels like we are coming full circle and capping things off on a high note.

And maybe it’s just nostalgia for this great series, but I was smiling all the way through my reread.

Even though Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled is the final book in the series, I still like to think of Mrs. Pollifax out there in the world somewhere on another secret mission for Carstairs pulling off the impossible.  In the meantime, it just might be time to circle back to the first book in the series.

If you are missing one of her adventures, here is the Mrs. Pollifax series in order.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.


  1. I loved this series from the first book. I held on to these books when I had to move. I reread them about every 7-10 years and they are always wonderful.

    1. I agree. This is my second time through the series, and I still absolutely loved it!

  2. Sounds like you really don't want the series to end. Must be great reading!